Thursday, June 20, 2013


She strikes without warning and once she's here, she prefers to stay a while. Today, she found me in the garage, a clean 15 seconds after I'd pulled in. So she offered to sweep my garage floor while I shuffled around, peering at paint cans and stashing junk.

I always hoped I wouldn't have to try at these things by now, but it turns out I'm still me. My heart still prefers quiet and alone, I'm just learning to push past it, to go to what needs me.

We talked family and God while I tried not to think of the time. Her story changed three times in as many minutes and the floor of a garage was only meant to be so clean, so I invited her out to the garden with me, to poke around and pull the weeds.

It kind of took her breath away. Then again, she's a bit of a push-over.

To call it a "garden" is a stretch. It's four boxes, laid out purposefully in a grid.
It's small, but it felt like a serious undertaking when we launched it and we knew we might fail.
Things are growing. Except for the beans. So we cut our losses and started over. That's why we're here - we're here to grow beans. We're stubbornly resolute, sometimes beyond comfortable or judicious reason.

There's no shade near our garden, it's awfully close to the alley, and I never pictured myself with one foot in the street and the other in the tomatoes, calling life from the dirt when I'm tired and my back is hot. But trying to see the future is overrated, the very recipe for disappointment, and my heart is shifting right along with my garden paradigm.

Earlier today I drove across town, across the tracks, to stout rows of pepper plants and over-eager onions, everything penned in by sunflowers, eight feet tall. It was everything I want, all that I've dared to hope for. For just a moment, I wanted to sit over there, be friends with the farmer.  I was inspired up to the moment that the soil turned from admiration to envy and isn't envy the meanest snake in the garden? The pesticide of creativity and courage?

Back home, my garden looked all the more like child's play and I worried over my second-chance beans, lurking somewhere, maybe. Not at all ready to talk.

But we had made our plans, we'd watered and waited, we'd done our part. Not everything is up to us. It's a leap of faith and this was the garden we were given.

So we won't begrudge its smallness, because a bloom is a bloom, and just one is miracle enough.
We won't ignore it for its bent toward the ordinary or pine ourselves into a tailspin, running in reverse toward something already past its season.

We won't agonize that we weren't invited to be part of the big garden walk, we won't take it personally or send our trying into flailing over-drive. We won't lose sleep over our thumbs, lightish green and only to the knuckle.

There's no time for that. There's work to be done and these four little boxes fall in our jurisdiction. Who else is going to weed them? Who else will count it a highlight of the day to watch the growth from the vantage point of a bent, dirty knee? Who else will moon over every burst of life and grieve the dang beans?

It's way too early to anticipate the harvest, but we trust that something will flourish. Something will. And when it does, we'll pluck it up. We'll throw a party, a harvest dinner for the ages. We'll smack our foreheads over our doubts. We'll graze our fingertips across our lips in wonder.

It doesn't matter at all if no one ever creeps down the alley at a nosy coast or asks for a sampling of our lettuce. This was the garden we were given, so we'll tend our boxes with trust and care.
We won't ever wish them away.